Appropriate Adults help in 590 cases involving young suspects
Support scheme for young suspects turns one today
She conducted the interview with one of the 408 Appropriate Adults (AAs) present, and Assistant Superintendent (ASP) S. Aiswarya managed to coax the girl who had been caught for shoplifting twice to confide in her.
Speaking at the Police Cantonment Complex yesterday, ASP Aiswarya, 25, recounted last year's interview with the 15-year-old: "The reason why she was doing this was because she did not want to be a burden to her parents and ask them for money.
"So we know this is the impetus towards committing the offence, and we find out a bit more about the problems she's facing."
The investigation officer (IO) from Bedok Police Division had help from the AA, who had been trained under the Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Suspects (AAYS).
The AAYS is one-year-old today.
The police told The New Paper there are 408 AAs who have gone through the scheme, and they have been activated about 590 times over the last 12 months.
Under the scheme, trained volunteers serve as AAs who accompany young suspects during investigation interviews, provide emotional support and aid communication between the suspect and the IO.
The scheme is available at the Criminal Investigation Department, Bedok Police Division and the Central Narcotics Bureau's Investigation Division.
Starting from today, it will be rolled out at the Central, Clementi and Tanglin Police Divisions, as well as Singapore Customs and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
The full roll-out is expected to be completed in mid-2019.
AA Andrew Chew, 58, has helped in eight cases so far, and he said his presence can help young suspects through what could be stressful situations.
Mr Chew, who is self-employed, said the language used by police officers could be challenging for young suspects to understand, and an AA - they range from 21 to 70 years of age - can help clarify questions.
The Singapore Children's Society (SCS) administers and manages the AAYS, and is responsible for recruiting, training and deploying AAs, who undergo a day-long training session.
Cases are assigned to AAs based on their experience, gender, age and spoken languages.
Explaining the AAYS deployment procedure, an SCS spokesman said: "Volunteers who meet the selection criteria will receive an activation SMS from us, and those who are available will respond.
"We will select and link the AA up with the investigation officer. Typically, our AA will have 90 minutes to arrive at the venue."
ASP Aiswarya said young suspects are told the AA is not a police officer.
She said: "This puts the young suspect at ease so they know the police are looking out for their emotional well-being.
"This makes them more relaxed and more forthcoming with information, especially regarding problems they are facing and why they committed the crime."